Monday, April 18, 2022

Book: Script Doctor (Cartmel)

Script Doctor
- The Inside Story of Doctor Who 1986-1989 -

Andrew Cartmel

Miwk Publishing
(this edition)


Simon St. Laurent said...

"At the end of a long, inconclusive morning with a problematical script involving a lot of special effects, [director] Andrew [Morgan] turned to the technical team and grinned and said, 'Great. I think it's great. Over to you boys'."

As I wrote on the 14th of May, 2020, for my piece "Andrew Cartmel Writes", regarding the featured book....

Script Doctor: The Inside Story of Doctor Who 1986-1989 is an absorbing non-fiction work about Cartmel's tenure on Doctor Who, just as that long-running British science fiction series was winding down -- though they did not know it at the time, of course. The show's encumbrance by a static budget, with a BBC "sixth floor" in stasis, makes one who is interested in TV production appreciate what DW's new script editor had to deal with when producing product. These television makers weren't the first to experience "if it's not one thing, it's another", so much a part of any production, big or small, and their tasking of reinvigorating and maintaining a series that BBC controller Michael Grade so vocally despised, albeit not always without reason, should make one realize that what went-out to your telly was often a simple reduction and compression of uncontrollable chaos. (Sitting in a pub till late at night instead of working on that special makeup might not sit well with those who hoped for more; even considering the restrictive budget. And in the control room, that televised cricket match may very well be more interesting than what's playing on the in-studio monitors.)

Script Doctor is outstanding. The fact that Cartmel drew much of the book's source material from a diary that he kept during Who's writing and production phases, makes for full-spectrum authenticity.

DonaldAR said...

Completely tangential comment re: "Cartmel drew much of the book's source material from a diary that he kept during Who's writing and production phases, makes for full-spectrum authenticity."
Who the heck has time to keep a diary while working? Admittedly, I've been mostly a hands-on blue collar type for the last few decades. But even when I was a desk-job kinda guy, I can't remember having time to document my activities that couldn't be better spent actually doing them. Spare time? If I had any, I probably wouldn't be wanting to write about my generally unpleasant work day...

Simon St. Laurent said...

Writers write!

It comes naturally and without limitation: in a dedicated diary, on a napkin, on the back of a script or postcard.

In Script Doctor there is actually a reproduced sampling of author Cartmel's impromptu diary -- this one a script page. There are even coffee stains.

I know what it's like to keep notes this way. When I was an optical camera/printer operator I would keep a log -- notes I would make while I was shooting, or after I was done. On one project in particular, I wrote an overview of that day's production when I retuned home in the evening.

Writers write! Always....